Monday, December 30, 2013

Identifying Stones Is Not Easy - Part One

My grandparents were avid rock hounds, collectors, and cutters. I've shared their work here before and most of the cut and polished stones have been identified. The rough stone, uncut and unpolished, is a little harder.

If grandma wrote on it, it obviously is easier... though I could not read her writing on this stone. I did finally figure out that it is Mariposite. I'd never heard of this before but it's awfully pretty. Now I need to decide whether I want to have some pendant focal beads made from it or sell the whole slab. I think they have some more of it in their stock. If I remember correctly there's a huge chunk that isn't cut in slab form yet.

This stone looks like a Jasper but I was not entirely sure which kind. There are seemingly hundreds. This one didn't take more than 10 minutes or so to find online. It appears to be Blue Mountain Picture Jasper.
Blue Mountain Picture Jasper

This one I actually knew and they have several. This is lovely Chrysocolla and I think it has Malachite and Azurite together.

This one I found by accident while looking for another one. This is Imperial Jasper and I've found about six small slabs like these. They're so beautiful in person - like God painted with green and white paint, swirling and feathering it together.

What's even more fun is that Marshal was helping me with identification using the pictures we were finding online. Maybe I can pass on my grandparent's legacy to him too.

I have a LOT of work to do to identify all their stones. Here are a few more I'll be working on soon.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Get Jealous a Lot and I'm Working On It

My competitive nature can sometimes get the best of me. It's not that I can't lose gracefully. It's more that I want to do better than other people. And when I don't my green Envy monster comes out.

That sounds horrible doesn't it? I'll try to explain.

I tend to not care that other people make more money or have bigger houses. I try my best to be content with what I have and where I am in life. Nowhere is this harder for me than in my jewelry business.

I browse Etsy once in awhile, looking at other Jewelry Artisans to see what they're up to. A couple are people I've met (in person or online) and known for several years. It has taken me many years to be happy for their success.

Comparing myself to them is unhealthy and counter productive but I'm constantly fighting the thoughts...Why am I not as successful? Are my designs not as good? How do they get their photos so great? I wish I could do that.

And none of those thoughts are healthy or helpful. Seriously! When I create something that I find outstanding and beautiful it does not make my work better than theirs, nor does their beauty somehow make mine less so.

One of my particularly successful friends makes similar jewelry to mine and her photos are phenomenal (super important for online selling). And she has an outstanding number of sales. Oh and she somehow manages it all with three kids.

*insert grouchy face here*

I envy her work. I do. I admit it. Her work is lovely. I wish I knew how she took such great pictures too. And I know she's worked very hard at it all. Instead of frustrated that my work hasn't sold as well I need to be happy for her (and I really am).

This envy is something I will continue to battle and sometimes I meet it head on by purposely promoting other jewelry designers...kind of a vaccine against envy by taking a live virus. hahahaha Great visual right?

The reality is that I cannot make all the different types of jewelry that can be made in the world. I have my style and I need to focus on that. Focus on what I can do, not what others do. And I think that's an important philosophy for life in general. Don't worry about others - their wealth or their job or their talents - focus on what YOU can do and be.

Friends who make jewelry...

Dana James
Jennifer Casady
Sylvia Swasey

And here's my shop - Casto Creations Jewelry -  in case you want to compare...just don't tell me if you like theirs better, okay? =)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Two Boys, A Dog, and a Tree

As a follow up to my post about taking pictures of little kids and babies I thought I'd share my latest photography experience.

When Marshal was a baby we had "professional" photos taken at Target. I found a baby Santa outfit so of course he had to have it, and I saved it for Dillon.

Marshal in all his cuteness - less than 3 months old. Somehow the clothes look like they fit even though it's a 12 month outfit.

As is the case with most second children, we aren't going to Target to get pictures taken. We were going to meet with my friend who takes amazing photographs but both boys were sick so we had to cancel.

So I thought I'd try it on my myself...with no assistance other than Marshal.

I started out using my regular camera before trying to use my iPhone. For some reason I have a very hard time getting shots that aren't blurry.

Smell my feet!

Hey look, the dog!

Catch me! I'm falling!!!

Why won't blogger let my photos be the right way? I fixed it in the photo editor! 

Other than being a bit blurry, and it looking like there's spit up on his lips, this one is great. It's not spit up. It's drool and reflection.
Here let me help mommy, says Marshal.

We did have a bit of fun trying to get a good picture. I think these are the keepers.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My House Is Shrinking

At least that is what it feels like. I swear we accumulate twice as much stuff as we get rid of. I'm fairly (and genetically) prone to hoarding but at this point I'm starting to feel claustrophobic. And I'm not quite sure how to handle it.

You can't see our kitchen table - it's covered in laundry (clean and mostly folded), jewelry supplies, and shipping materials. Yup...half the table is where I pack and ship my jewelry and jewelry supply orders.

The counters in the kitchen are can barely see them. Which is sad because they're made of gorgeous granite.

My jewelry work space (also in the kitchen) is packed and I create my jewelry in about an 8 inch square space. Which can be kind of hazardous when working with the torch.

Then we brought in the Christmas decorations - and we have a lot ... boxes and boxes were taken out of the attic.

Once we get the tree set up and decorations put up (for all of three weeks) then at least some stuff will go back in the garage (which I can't even walk through).

I'm pretty sure my house was more put together when I was working full time out of the house. How is that possible??? Yes we're home more to mess things up more but we still had laundry. The only thing I feel like I've been able to keep up on is the dishes.

Hubby has vacation the last two weeks of the year and I'm hoping we will be able to do a massive "stuff" dump. Just go through everything and take trips to Goodwill. Usually I will take the time to organize things for a garage sale or sell on Craigs List. But my sanity is worth more than the few dollars we would get by taking the time to sell things.

I think I'll ask Santa for a clean house for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winco Now Promoting Ibotta

Shopping Monday at Winco and found it interesting to see them promoting Ibotta.

At the entrance there's a little stand that typically has some coupons. I grabbed one and noticed they were for some Kraft cheese items. Which was perfect because I knew these items were also on Ibotta.

As I looked closer, down in the corner of the page was the Ibotta logo and a note about getting the ap and saving even more.

How cool is that?!? This store is encouraging us to double dip.

I got four things of Kraft cheese (it is my favorite and I realize it can be more expensive than generic...but I can tell the difference) and earned $3.25 from Ibotta and got $2 taken off in coupons from Winco.

Have you tried Ibotta? * It's totally legit and an easy way to get rebates on items you buy every day. To date, I've earned $129.25 in cash back. It goes to my paypal account when I cash it out, or they now offer gift cards! Great gift cards like Starbucks, Regal Cinemas, and iTunes.

* This is my referral link...I think I get a dollar if you sign up. :) But I'd recommend it even if I got nothing.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Love Matt Walsh

Okay, not really. I love his writing. I was introduced to his blog by a friend on Facebook and I've been hooked ever since. He's logical. He's down to earth. He's passionate.

And his latest post about kids not making you happy is brilliant.

I am not my kids. I am not "just" a mom. Being a mom is super important and right now the focus of most of my time. But it isn't all I am, all the time.

It's a fine line, I think, between being selfish (the "me, me, me" generation) and being an individual apart from being a parent. Our society says that it should be all about "me" and what makes "me" happy - instant gratification, follow my heart, and all that crap.

I know that the selfish side of me wants to sleep all night, have an uninterrupted day to do whatever I want, and take a shower on a daily basis. But those desires aren't always fact lately they haven't been met on a consistent basis. Especially now that I have two little monsters. And in reality those things are secondary to raising healthy kids. I can sleep when they move out.

Marshal and I at the Zoo.

I'm a mom, yes. I'm also a wife. A jewelry designer. An Aflac agent (technically...though not actively). A friend. I love Excel and consider myself a geek. Or a nerd. Depending on the day. I'm slowly learning how to cook food that actually tastes good and doesn't come out of a box. I love going to movies. I'm addicted to food - especially ice cream and oreo cookies. I'm a daughter and a sister.

I'm also a Christian...though that's a complicated one that could be a blog post (or several) all by itself.

My happiness is not the job of my boys...or of my husband. Too many people marry to "be happy" and that is equally as wrong as having kids to make you happy. It's my job to find happiness in the life I have. To be content with what we have and where we are. That can be very tough...some days it seems impossible.

But it's a work in progress and I do not want to burden my sons or husband with that responsibility.
" ... I have learned to be content in any circumstance. 12 I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing." Philippians 4:11-12

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Cyber Monday - How to Buy Handmade

Are you shopping this Cyber Monday? I'm not but only because I've got pretty much every gift I need for gifts this year. And I'll be making a few, of course.

If you are still looking for a special gift, please consider buying handmade. Etsy was created specifically as a shopping venue for handmade and vintage items. There are amazingly talented artists who create their items from start to finish.

Etsy isn't perfect though. Too many non handmade vendors have sneaked in and watered down the market...with mass produced, cheap, Walmart style jewelry. I'm not knocking Walmart...I like Walmart personally. But there is a market for Walmart and a market for handmade...and the two are not the same.

How to tell something might not be truly handmade by an artisan:

  1. The shop has no information in their about page or profile.
    This is a big one for me - if you haven't taken the time to fill out the section to tell me about who you are as an artist and a person I am less likely to trust you as a seller.
  2. Location.
    There are absolutely handmade artisans in China...but if the shop is from China and everything in the shop looks the same with just variations in colors...and it looks like something you'd find at Walmart...chances are it's not an actual artist. I'm not against people buying things made in China, and I do it myself, but Etsy is not for those manufacturers or resellers of cheap jewelry. Also, if someone doesn't list where they are from that is a warning sign to me.
  3. Price.
    If it's too good to be know the rest. As an artist I work very hard to price my jewelry appropriately. But sterling silver and fine silver is expensive. And high quality. If someone is selling a necklace for $2.99 chances are it is NOT handmade. Even the cheapest materials will cost more than that, plus the time to create, than $2.99. And if you are an artist pricing your work at this rate...stop it! Just stop it. It makes you look bad and your work cheap.
  4. Originality.
    This one can be a little tough, however if you do a search for an item like "bubble necklace" you will see hundreds of results for items that all look seriously nearly identical. It's pathetic. I'm not saying there can't be hundreds of people making simple pearl earrings, but if even the photos look identical, then the items are likely not handmade.

If all these things combined - no information, location, price, and originality are all together please don't support that shop. It undermines the whole point of Etsy. I report those shops that look like manufactured or reseller shops. Nothing seems to ever happen to them and sadly some of them have thousands upon thousands of sales. But I will continue to report them and hope that Etsy will eventually crack down and get back to the roots of Handmade!

Enjoy 10% off your order in my shop through Friday 12/6 - use code CYBERMONDAY at checkout.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jewelry for Christmas

Looking for a beautiful piece of handcrafted jewelry for a Christmas gift for you or for someone else? Let a Self Representing Artisan Jewelry Designer help you out.

What's SRAJD you ask? From the website:
  • An SRAJD member sells the jewelry that they designed and created. When you purchase from an SRAJD member, you are buying directly from and supporting the artist.
  • Aside from raising customer awareness, we also work as a community to help, nurture, instruct, and encourage one another.
I've been a member for a long time - pretty much since this group started. I'm Artist number 37. Yup. Double Digits. One of the first 50 members. I haven't always participated fully but I'm definitely more active now.

Artists in this group range in skill and ability - from beginner to professional. But we all have in common a love of creating and a desire to educate others about handmade.

To support a self representing artist this year, go to Etsy and search for SRAJD and you will find over 9,000 pieces of jewelry to choose from. All handmade.

I even made a treasury with some of the beautiful pieces in shades of silver and blue made by SRAJD members. And one with Red, White, and Black items. But there really are all kinds of lovely items to find among these artists.

Egyptian Lotus Wire Wrapped Pendant Necklace by SRAJD Member Bracken Designs

 Steampunk Owl Earrings
Steampunk Owl Earrings by SRAJD Member The Creative Block - Also an Olympia Etsy Team Member.

Men's Black Lampwork Glass and Greek Leather Necklace by SRAJD Member Jewellry by Clare 
Lampwork Glass Hoop Earrings by SRAJD Member Brooklyn Bead Goddess
There are all kinds of price points and styles for every taste available by these dedicated jewelry artisans. Consider supporting handmade this year!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sending A Newsletter

Nearly two years ago I sent a newsletter. Yup. Almost two years ago.

And today I sent another one. Phew. I've gotta catch my breath here. Hope I'm not bothering people.

I have a hard time sending newsletters. What do I say? Or in this case write. Am I boring people? Will they unsubscribe?

It's nerve wracking.

But I've never completely given up my newsletter. I did, however, forget my log in entirely and had to have the staff at Mail Chimp help me recover my account, and all the credits I have saved up. They were fabulous, although their verification process was akin to a very personal doctor's appointment. But at least they're thorough.

Mail Chimp is easy to use and yet has enough bells and whistles that it can easily be overwhelming for a novice like me. I try to keep it simple. They help by walking you through each step to create an effective "campaign" (as they call it) and making sure you're not screwing up or being too spammy.

My goal is to have two separate newsletter lists - one for people interested in my jewelry creations and the other for those who want updates on my supply shop. That way I can target my emails easily without having to bug everyone at the same time.

I'm all about not bugging people...most of the time.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Can Relate - Photographing Infants

While holding Dillon in one arm, and the mouse in the other, I came upon another wonderful Matt Walsh blog post...he's a fantastic writer. Sometimes I read the comments, sometimes I don't. Today I did and I'm so glad. I found a stay at home mommy with a PhD...which I realize shouldn't surprise me at ALL but for some reason made me feel a little better about being home now with the boys.

Mommy Life After PhD looks pretty new but I love her already. Her latest blog post about photographing her new born had me laughing out loud (really...LOL). Because we had a similar experience and I can totally relate.
Attempting to keep baby from crying - pulling out the paci a second before snapping a photo. :) This was a practice shot.

My wonderful friend Rayna is a wonderful photographer. It's not her profession (she's an even more wonderful educator) but she's got mad skillz. Yup...skillz. Her subjects weren't real cooperative though.

Scheduling an infant is like herding cats...or some other similar phrase. Babies are supposed to be sleeping and peaceful and ... pliable...movable...pose-able. Or something.

Yeah...not so much.

She got some amazing shots, all things considered. We were in our front entry way in about 4 feet of space because the sky light provided the best lighting. Baby wasn't cooperating and brother just wanted to "help" a lot. She got great photos of our wonderful boys (and us) in about 45 minutes, which I think is a record.

I can't wait until next weekend when we do Christmas pictures.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Typing With Baby

With a baby, typing becomes a challenge. I'm a great typer...yes I just made that word up. I've been able to type over 75 wpm since high school and I've broken 100+ several times. But of course that is using TWO hands!

As Dillon gets a little older (he's five months already!!!) he's demanding to be held more. And yes, I give in most of the time. He's cute. It's hard to say no.

So now I get to type with one hand. I've blocked most of my "bad" memories of Marshal as a baby so I don't recall how active I was online and needing to type one handed. But I'm needing to answer Etsy conversations from my Etsy Supply Shop, responding to client emails for Aflac, and a whole host of other typing requirements.

I think I'm getting faster ... though my error rate is definitely higher with one hand than with two. And I'll never break the 20 wpm rate with one hand. But I'm practicing a lot!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Great Trip to Walmart

Shopping at Walmart can be a hit or miss experience sometimes. Occasionally the items I'm looking for are not stocked, though it's a rare occurrence.

Usually my mood in leaving the store is set at the checkout counter. Is the checker competent at taking coupons and price matching? Is the line ridiculously long? Are there even enough cashiers available? And are the customers behind me patient?

Today I got lucky!

Middle of the day on a rare hot Saturday - the checkout lines were not super long even though there weren't very many cashiers open.

After getting in line I realized I'd forgotten two bags of Cheetos - necessary for my price matching options and needed for two potlucks. The woman who had gotten in line behind me could tell the second I realized I'd missed them and encouraged me to "run" back to get them. I let her know I would walk running is not currently an option.

New baby Dillon

(Why do the chips have to be so far away from the front of the store???)

When I got back this sweet old lady was unpacking my cart for me! The gal in front of me was just finishing up. Talk about sweet.

Of course, it kind of messed up my OCD organization of items...I group things so that all the price matched items are together. But it was so nice of I sucked it up and didn't have a panic attack. :)

The cashier was not the friendliest of gals but she was competent and took all my price matching in stride. It always takes a long time - I wish their technology would allow them to price match faster since Walmart makes such a big deal about being able to do it.

I love price matching. Their soda regular price is $3.98. It was on sale at QFC and Albertsons for $2.75 a piece. That's a savings of $1.23 per twelve pack. Now, obviously NOT buying soda is a better option but that's not going to happen so saving $1.23 makes me very happy. I bought 8 twelve packs - saving $9.84. Plus another $1 savings from a coupon.

Using Price Matching I also saved on Cheetos, Eggo Waffles, Ragu, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Powerade, and Totino's pizza. Nope...not the healthiest items. But on my list nonetheless.

So today's trip was good. Lots of savings, a good cashier, and friendly and helpful fellow customers. Plus it's super sunny outside!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hopefully Postpartum Will be Minimal

When my little man Marshal was born I was completely overwhelmed. I lost a lot of blood and a difficult recovery. He had blood sugar issues and ended up in ICU.

I was so determined to breast feed him and avoid a bottle that instead of allowing the nurses to give him formula we kept trying to breast feed. But nothing came out and he ended up with blood sugar in the 20s...and a trip to NicU.
Marshal in NicU - 2009
We fed him with a tube and syringe for the first few weeks of his life, simply to avoid the bottle. I pumped as much as possible to get him breast milk. I could pump for over an hour and get less than an ounce of breast milk.

I tried everything to increase production - drinking beer (which I HATE), tea (also can't stand), and all the other things the lactation specialists recommended. We met with her at least twice a week.

I was NOT bonding with Marshal. I wanted to send him away and even thinking about it now makes me want to cry. I was completely depressed and hubby eventually made me go see the counselor.

Finally, even the lactation nurse said I needed to stop trying and move to formula. I was not bonding and I needed to take care of myself and my son.

This time, as much as I wanted to breast feed I went in with a completely different attitude. I willingly tried to breast feed and worked with the nurses after Dillon was born. For a variety of physical reasons my breasts do not cooperate and I didn't even produce colostrum. :( I still feel like crap for not being able to breast feed...I WANTED to. But it just wasn't meant to be.

Dillon's blood sugar did start to drop a few hours after birth. Instead of trying to force my will, we started him on a bottle with formula. Praising God - he avoided NicU completely and his blood sugar was perfectly normal from then on out.

Heading Home - Brothers

When my Sister in Law visited us in the hospital she said she could totally tell a difference in my attitude and temperament this time around. Obviously, a new mom will have more emotional issues. But with my history of depression the second time around is still a huge risk.

So far so good. I've had a few moments of baby blues - one night of crying uncontrollably - but nothing like the soul crushing depression I felt after Marshal.

We made it home and are now a family of FOUR! It boggles my mind. I still can't believe we have a new baby. It's such a huge change...and I don't love change. I know we'll find our routine eventually.

Marshal has been a good big brother so far. I know that could change any second but we're working really hard to make sure he feels like part of this team. And thankfully my family knows what to look for to make sure I don't fall into the abyss that is postpartum depression.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Back in the Saddle - Free Food with Ibotta and Coupons

After Marshal was born I was a complete wreck and didn't leave the bedroom for a good month. Now, Dillon is ten days old and I can't wait to get out of the house. So I went grocery shopping! Oh the joys of motherhood.

Making grocery shopping fun for me is the challenge to save money - One great app I discovered for that is called Ibotta*. Together with coupons I made a pretty good haul today and felt almost normal.

Basically, Ibotta pays you cash money for buying groceries and items you normally buy anyway. The more you use the app the more bonuses and items you unlock. I've earned more than $50 cash back so far (using it for a couple of months) - and I haven't even spent that much out of pocket on items because I also use coupons with the items and try to find them on sale.

Using Ibotta and shopping at WinCo I actually got paid to buy a couple of items and got a few others for free.

The app itself is super simple - Take a picture of your receipt within the app and scan the bar code for each item. It takes about 2 minutes if you have a lot of items to scan...but only if you're really slow. =)

Here's my score using Ibotta.

Free cereal, granola, and yogurt - Total spent around $4

Yes, it may be "junk" food to you but the granola is healthy and so is the yogurt and the Oatmeal bars. Healthy by our standards at least. And hey, chocolate is a bean, so technically the chocolate milk is a veggie drink. Right?

Hershey's Cookies & Cream Cereal - $2.28
Ibotta cash $2
Coupon $0.50 off
$0.22 Money Maker

Vanilla Chex Cereal - $2.28
Ibotta Cash $2
Coupon $0.50 off
$0.22 Money Maker

Oatmeal Bars by Nature Valley - $1.98 each
Ibotta Cash $1.00 for One
Coupon $0.25
Cost: $2.71 for Two

Yoplait Yogurt - $0.49
Ibotta Cash $0.50
$0.01 Money Maker

Nature Valley Protein Granola - $2.98
Ibotta Cash $3.00
$0.02 Money Maker

Betty Crocker Cake - $1.18
Ibotta Cash $0.50
Cost $0.68

The Chocolate milks were not part of Ibotta cash back BUT the cereal and oatmeal bars had coupons for $0.50 off any milk - no size restrictions - so I got small chocolate milks as a treat for Marshal. Each one cost me about $0.55 after coupon.

So everything in the picture cost me out of pocket around $18 - minus coupons bringing it to about $15 and I get $9 cash back from Ibotta. AND Ibotta has bonus deals which I *should* qualify for giving me an additional $2 back. So the final total for everything above is about $4. Not too shabby.

Other Ibotta Stuff:

  • It IS cash back. It's not a reward card or points or anything like that. I can redeem the money anytime (Once I get $5) and have it transferred to my paypal account. 
  • I also love that you can use coupons along with getting cash back - making many of the items money makers. 
  • There's more than just food too - the items available for cash back rotate - fabric softener, scotch tape, and even movies have been available for cash back. 
  • There are several stores that participate in "bonus" cash back including Target, Winco, and Walmart - my three main sources of shopping.
  • You do have to have a smart phone but I don't think it's exclusive to the iPhone, which is what I have.

If you buy groceries this app is a no brainer...even if you only use it once in awhile you will earn cash on things you are buying anyway. I know the items I bought aren't the healthiest - and for you healthier folks never fear - they do have organic and gluten free items pop up as available items. :)

* My referral link - sign up and download the app and you'll get a $10 sign up bonus!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A New Human - Introducing Dillon James

I abandoned my blog during the last part of my pregnancy with Baby Boy #2. It was pretty rough for me...very tired, too many shots of insulin, lots of pain. It was all I could do to keep up with laundry and dishes.

We were scheduled for induction on there at 7:30 as requested...and were sent home. Oh my goodness that was so horrible. Obviously in the scheme of things it wasn't a big deal, but I was SO ready to be done. But obviously it wasn't God's will for Dillon to be born on Friday. So we called Saturday morning and were told to come on down.

As of Saturday night, the pregnancy is officially over and Dillon James arrived - on June 15 at 9:57 pm. He was 7 pounds 7 ounces and 20 inches long. In comparison, Marshal was 7 pounds and 4 ounces and 19 3/4 inches long. God blessed us with a very healthy little guy.

Marshal took a little longer to arrive than Dillon and I don't remember it being nearly as painful but it's been nearly four years so I'm sure I blocked out those memories. I only pushed with Dillon for four or five contractions and he arrived...could have been less than 30 minutes. Pretty sure Marshal took over an hour once I started pushing.

On the bright side - my recover, and Dillon's, was nearly textbook and NO ICU for baby!!! My blood sugars were great and my blood pressure didn't crash this time. I was actually able to stand up to get in the wheel chair to go to recovery this time. With Marshal they had to wheel me in on the bed.

Dillon James Casto - Newborn
When Marshal was born I tried so hard to breast feed and was adamant against using formula. Within a few hours of his birth his blood sugar had dropped so low that he was admitted to ICU. If I'd agreed to go with formula right away we probably would have avoided the ICU.

This time, I made up my mind ahead of time that I would try to breast feed but was not going to be stubborn about it if it didn't work. And not surprisingly, it didn't.

There are a few reasons why breast feeding doesn't work for me...that I won't go into online. They are mostly medical. I tried for over a month to breast feed with Marshal and it caused me nothing but pain, depression, and lack of bonding with my son. I've come to terms with not being able to breast feed my sons. And this time I was pretty glad for formula.

Dillon did not need to be admitted into ICU after his blood sugar started to drop because we started him on formula. I'm sure there are moms out there who will lecture me, say I didn't try hard enough, judge me...that's okay. Feel free. I'm okay with our decision and I know the ultimate reasons behind it.

Dillon - 1 1/2 days old at home

We came home less than 48 hours after birth with a super healthy baby boy - doctors and nurses said he was "perfect"...we'll see. :) No jaundice, hearing and cardiac tests passed, eating and blood sugar perfect.

I'll write more because I want to document our experience with our new boy...and Marshal too. This is kind of a diary for me.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Free Ketchup and Cheap Cereal at Target

I had an absolute blast at Target today. While adding to my baby registry I also went shopping. :)

Here's what I got...I paid out of pocket $13.98 AND got a $5 gift card back.

The Ketchup was's $1.99 and there is a Target $2 coupon (click on the Target picture to the right to go to their coupons).

Valentine's Day stuff was 70% off so I got Marshal some playdoh for $1.20 (he's been wanting it) and a few other things for pennies.

The Red Velvet cake was on sale for $1.32 and I had $0.50 coupons.

I LOVE the smell of the Glad Fuji Apple & Cardamom Spice and they were on clearance for $2.54. I had $2 each was only $0.54.

There is a mobile coupon for the Market Pantry fruit snacks making them $0.44 a box.

The cereal is my favorite find though...Money Saving Mom helped me do this one. I didn't do it exactly like she did because I had a few different coupons. Her scenario has boxes at $0.10 a piece but mine came to around $0.25 a piece.

Buy 5 boxes @ $2.50 each and get a $5 gift card.

I bought:

  • Cheerios Multi Grain $2.50 - $0.75 coupon
  • Cheerios Medley Crunch x 2 = $5 - $2.00 in coupons
  • Peanut Butter Crunch x 2 = $5 - $2 in coupons
Target Coupon $1/3 General Mills Cereal

Total out of pocket $6.75 and Earned a $5 gift card.

I used the $5 gift card I earned from my last trip and my Target debit card (NOT the credit card) for an additional 5% off. Total out of pocket was $13.98 plus the gift card.

And I updated my baby times all around!